Old timers are going to scoff with my suggestion. I have had 2 lathes
in the last 35 years and hardly used either until about 3 years ago.
There is a learning curve to using the tools correctly and then
sharpening is another issue. Over the 30 first years I became, with
days of practice separated by months of non use, almost ok. Notice I did
not capitalize ok. It can be very frustrating for a beginner to learn
to become proficient and you need a minimum of 8~10 tools, it might be
argued more or less.
Anyway, fast forward to about 3 years ago. For my birthday I received
3, three, only 3 new tools, to be specific, Easy Wood Tools turning
tools. These are carbide tipped and yes the tips are replaceable and
reusable when re-indexed, and some say re-sharpenable with a flat
diamond file. I have not worn a carbide tip out yet so have not tried
filing to resharpen. I now only use these three carbide tipped tools,
the others are still under a pile of dust.
The learning curve is going to take you a few minutes and you will be
turning like you have been turning for at least a few years.
If you want to become productive relatively quickly these are your
tools. If you want to learn old school, and there is absolutely nothing
wrong with that, load up on the gouges, skews, parting tool, and many
others I forget the names of.
I happen to have Easy Wood Tools brand but I'm sure that other brands
are just as good.
Interesting perspective considering that's what I did. I also have
carbide tools which I bought a year or so ago. I explained in my
"Handle" topic I wanted to make handles from the Maple tree limbs I
lopped off for all the carbide holders. I've used the carbide tools
often at the beginning but I also have a cheap set of the old school
tools. I sharpened them and gave them a try. I must say, I'm liking how
they cut. Though, turning my handles, I'm using both sets. Anyway, I
watch You Tube videos of wood turners with various projects and I
noticed the majority seem to use a bowl gouge and spindle gouge when
doing the very first rough cut and the chips fly off like butter. So I
often wonder, is it more about the wood or about the tool? Therefore, I
wonder if a bowl and spindle gouge would be best suited for that first
part of removing the majority of wood, then using the other fine tuning
tools for the shaping.
Since you already have some turning tools, the one tool that I would
recommend is a Superflute gouge:
It's not cheap but quality costs! My kit consists of mostly Henry Taylor
tools and a few from Sorby. Lee Valley sells them but also sells an
economy line of HSS tools:
Those carbide tip tools are mostly glorified scrapers, which is why you
see the professionals using cutters, i.e., gouges and skews.
BTW. if you are a relative beginner, don't try a skew chisel on spindle
turnings until you have become proficient with gouges.
I love it, keep up with Raffan - wow don't I wish!
I have his book and video. He can turn out more pots than
a pottery company!
I watch it now and then, then look over an area and try that.
On 9/15/2015 8:35 PM, Michael wrote:
will have to turn dried wood an dthat is where the technique becomes more
important with old hood tools.
I also recently started using the Easy Wood tools. I found them quite easy
to learn and use.
In my case I like to turn small bowls but because I do it only at irregular
intervals I was constantly
having to relearn proper technique for conventional tools as well as their
However if you are just starting with a lathe and are not sure what you most
like to turn there is another
path that might be useful. You could purchase a set of HSS tools from
Harbor Freight for a fraction the cost
of a quality conventional or carbide tool. Use them to practice both
turning and sharpening and you have not lost much.
Then you can go on to buy the individual quality tools you find that you use
1x30 belt sander, with a variety of belts. It's worth going to 1000
grit, the resulting cut will be much better. (Once you're there, it
only takes a second to refresh the edge.)
I've got some cheapie turning tools from Menards and some better quality
HSS tools from Woodcraft. Both do a fine job after a second or 5 on the
Now, take this with a grain of salt. I only bought a real lathe last
month. Previously, I had been misusing a Taig as a wood lathe.
Many people are starting with the carbide cutters today, the problem is
since they are scrappers they result in more tear-out then a true
Have a skew, and learn to use it. A large skew is also a great roughing
tool. A smaller (1 inch/25mm) skew makes for some easier finish cuts
A set of spindle gouges, ranging in size from 1/4 inch (8mm) to 1 inch (25mm)
At least one bowl gouge, 1/2 inch (12mm). More if you want a number of
If you are a serious bowl/vessle turner have many bowl gouges, ranging
in size from 1/4 inch to 5/8 inch, with different grinds.
A couple scrapers, a square and a round nose. Many have a lot (OK, we
have 8, but the DW really likes scappers)
Then, if you want to be serious about vessels, the larger handled
scapers with a few cutters.
Also, if you are serious, ditch the grit wheel on the grinder and get a
180 grit CBN wheel. They produce a much better edge then any of the old
wheels, and they are a LIFE-TIME buy, you will not wear it out.
There are reasons I tell people that the lathe is about 1/3 of the
total cost of being a serious turner (and we have three lathes....)
at some point all turnings should be well rounded
watch more videos and/or practice more if not
in the right hands any tool can be used to do that
some are easier than others
i have learned a lot from watching videos and trial and error
with lots of the error
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